May 30, 2013

Shadowcon Reviews- All His Engines


Shadowcon Reviews: IDW Transformers Ongoing #7 “All His Engines”

One of the things that I love about the IDW Transformers comics is, because their story is so expansive and layered, the writers are able to give everyone a voice and a character. Granted, some of these characters are kind of weak, but most are very strong and can carry their own story. Last week, we looked at Optimus Prime, and how he dealt with leadership and the burdens of trying to cope with his lineage.
Today, we take a look at his opposite, and this is going to be a rather complicated process. To understand Megatron, we must first understand the many different agendas of the Decepticon Empire. In this issue, we see that the Decepticons, without their leader, are scattered, broken, and on the verge of extinction. Megatron’s comments about how his troops are lost without him is all too telling, as we see the Decepticons resorting to cannibalism and pillaging from one another, quite literally taking pieces of their dead and affixing those to themselves. I think that Starscream’s comment about how he will lead the Decepticons not through fear or mind control as Bombshell suggests, but through willingness to follow him, is very telling in that it shows that, at least to Starscream, Megatron’s leadership was unfounded, or founded upon duplicity and fear, whereas what Starscream is offering is a chance to lead a loyal army. Because, as we see, the Decepticons are not loyal to anybody. This issue shows that in its purest form; we have people backstabbing each other so frequently, that it is a wonder that the Decepticons were ever under control in the first place.
This brings me to a larger issue, which really can be talked about in any good vs. evil story: evil, or those participating in evil, is an easy thing to write. Making characters one-dimensional for the sake of having villainy is easy. Often in Transformers fiction, Megatron is seen as the be-all-end-all evil character; he has no morals, no emotions, no feelings of regret over anything. Look at his depiction in Transformers Cybertron, where he taunts his own troops when they fail him, and literally rules them through torture and pain. In fact, the only person under his command who wasn’t beaten into submission was Scourge, and he finally turned tail and joined Optimus and his team because there was no honor in following Megatron anymore.
In IDW’s universe, however, Megatron is seen as a damaged man, a man who fought for equality during a time where the caste system was so enforced, that you were sent to work as a miner simply because you were built that way. Megatron could be seen as a freedom fighter, at least in the beginning; a type of Julius Caesar that took control with the intent to better Cybertronian society. He was so bent on making things better, that his followers were then drunk on thoughts of power that they became corrupted, and thus Megatron was now under pressure to give them power. In this issue, we see that that power has destroyed the Decepticons, and they are reduced to eking out a life on a baron asteroid, with Megatron’s once great vision now in shambles.
Megatron’s views on Starscream and his position of power are also interesting. Starscream’s fixation with the Matrix of Leadership has made him drunk with dreams of change, yet unwilling to carry any of them out… kind of like me with these reviews. I think Starscream’s claim to the Matrix gave him the delusion that he was worth something in lieu of being Megatron’s number two. And Megatron recognizes that Starscream has great potential; that’s why he’s kept Starscream around despite his duplicity. I think it interesting that Megatron would criticize the humans, now in alliance with Optimus’ team on Earth, as ruling through fear and treachery, while at the same time saying that being deceptive is why the Decepticons will win.
Megatron’s final comments about how Optimus is actually surrendering rather than gaining ground by making this alliance with the humans is telling of how Megatron will use any means, exploit any weakness, making him somewhat of a coward himself. I think the point I’m trying to make here is that Megatron, while being seen as a tragic hero by some, could also be seen as a heretic, preaching honor and glory, while denouncing duplicity while practicing it himself. I think that this ties in very nicely with Optimus’ story from last weak, where Optimus found out about his lineage’s practice of deception and sought to better himself and his faction and distance himself from that, whereas here, Megatron embraces it and uses it to its fullest advantage.
             I would give this issue a hearty stamp of “Must Read” because I think that this is a key issue in understanding the Decepticons and their motives, as well as being a great look inside Megatron’s head. Where Optimus’ Spotlight struggled with pacing and introducing yet not expanding on its themes, “All His Engines” carries weight and utilizes all of Megatron’s comments to their fullest, backing them up not by more telling us things, but by showing us his views in the form of the human’s duplicity in conversation and Starscream’s ambition and fiddling with the Matrix. Next time, we’ll take a look at how the Autobots function on Earth in “Revenge of the Decepticons”.

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